Prakash Javadekar announced that the Centre intended to scrap the UGC, and replace it with a ‘Higher Education Body’.

Politicians shouldnt get involved in educational matters Academics on scrapping UGCPTI photo
news Education Thursday, June 28, 2018 - 13:14

The National Democratic Alliance on Wednesday announced its ambitious plan to reform higher education in the country. The Human Resources Development Ministry, headed by Prakash Javadekar, announced that it has drafted a bill titled ‘Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of UGC Act), 2018’, which plans to scrap the University Grants Commission and replace it with a ‘Higher Education Commission’.

Academicians have questioned this move, asking why should the government replace the UGC with another body headed by the Centre.

Eminent educationist and renowned theatre artiste Mangai told TNM, “Any body or committee that is centralized and monitors the function of higher education, in essence, is a stooge of the Central government. This just chokes the efforts of higher educationists from having their own autonomy.”

She added, “I don’t think changing the committee will help in any way. The UGC also works under the government. I do not see the need for a new body to come up. And if the original committee is not functioning properly, it is the government itself that needs to take the responsibility for it.”

Jayaprakash Gandhi, a renowned academician, too, asked why politicians were getting involved in such matters.

“The government keeps making such attempts, and never really goes forward with implementing it. Politicians should not involve themselves in the decision-making processes of the education system. A separate, independent body must look into such matters,” he said.

He further said, “Most decisions are getting political simply so that the parties have more say in decision-making regarding education. Instead, we need a group of core educationists and veteran academicians who can take the country forward.”

According to the ministry, the UGC is currently more into the ‘government’ than ‘governance’. It claimed that the UGC, as a body, is supposed to look into the various aspects of university regulations. Instead, it has been focusing more on granting funds to educational institutions.

The draft bill has reportedly been in the works for a few months now.

“There has to be a transparent and accountable body that is not swayed by political interests. Most universities cannot maintain the quality they are supposed to embody. The Centre wants to take all decisions, but the committees need to be granted more autonomy in looking into the regulatory functions of the institutions in order to preserve their quality,” Jayaprakash added.

The HRD Minister has sought responses from stakeholders and educationists from across the country by July 7. A press release put out by Javadekar included the announcement of the budget required for the ‘revamping’ of the UGC Act, and reformation of the current regulatory framework. It also emphasized on how the introduction of such reform “would provide a more holistic growth of the education system.”

Mangai added, “This particular government has been highly intrusive. There has been a lot of interference by the government in the way the higher education institutions are run. Right from the admission process to the intake of research scholars, everything has been interfered with which has led to widespread dissatisfaction within the faculties. I agree, the UGC has its problems but I think they should address it on an institution-specific basis. That should be done by the academicians in the higher education sector and not the government.”

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